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POP MUSIC : The Ruckus Over the Vanity Fair Profile

August 16, 1992|STEVE HOCHMAN

The 20 words that shook the record business are found near the end of Vanity Fair magazine's eight-page profile this month on rock provocateur Courtney Love.

Talking about a day last January when her husband Kurt Cobain's band, Nirvana, appeared on "Saturday Night Live," the 26-year-old singer is quoted as saying, "Then, we got high and went to 'S.N.L.' After that, I did heroin for a couple of months."

The shocker is that Love, the lead singer of the group Hole, was pregnant at the time.

Could she have knowingly put her future child at risk by taking drugs, especially heroin?

No, she told Calendar regarding the behavior that had been widely rumored in the rock world before the Vanity Fair article (see story on Page 54)--and she reaffirmed that answer last week in response to the magazine profile.

In a statement by Love and Cobain that was released through the couple's management company, they declare:

"The Vanity Fair article . . . contains many inaccuracies and distortions, and generally gives a false picture of both of us, including our attitude about . . . drugs."

Addressing the allegation that she was using heroin after knowing she was pregnant, they continue, "We unequivocally deny this. . . . As soon as Courtney found out she was pregnant, she immediately contacted an obstetrician and a doctor specializing in chemical dependency and has been under their care since then and has been assured that she can expect to have a healthy baby."

In addition, the statement says: "Because we were stupid enough to do drugs at one time, we realize that we opened ourselves up to gossip by people in the rock world who want desperately to pretend they have some 'inside' information on famous people.

"We never dreamed that such gossip would be reported as if it were true without us even having the ability to comment on it, especially when the gossip reflects on such a personal and important event as the birth of our first child."

Nonsense, responds Vanity Fair.

The magazine is standing by its story, written by contributing editor Lynn Hirschberg, who is a former contributing editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

"We quoted Courtney Love's comments, which we have on tape," says VF spokeswoman Maurie Perl. "And before the story went to print, Hirschberg informed several of Courtney and Kurt's representatives about the quotes on drugs and at the time there was no further clarification."

So, what will this controversy do to Love's burgeoning career? Is the public going to be fascinated by this outspoken young rebel, or repulsed?

Some industry observers questioned feel Love--who loves attention--has been walking on the wild side when it comes to media titillation.

"She got exactly what she wanted and now they don't like it," says an insider, referring to Love's stance as a rock 'n' roll bad girl.

But several feel that Love has certainly become a household name overnight.

"For a person who has built her career more on scandal than actual musical worth, the story is a major plus," says another music publicist. "I don't think it is going to harm her career at all. It will make everybody very curious about her music. Then it's up to the music to do the slam dunk."

Love certainly wasn't shy in the photo session for the Vanity Fair spread, titled "Strange Love." Living up to her bad-girl image, the very pregnant singer went as far as to pose in a revealing negligee and bra, holding a cigarette in her left hand.

Don't, however, expect to see all that in the magazine. Editor Tina Brown apparently thought the photo was in bad taste--and had the offending element airbrushed out.

You won't find the cigarette in the photo.

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